When Lloyd-Jones says that people still will come to hear preaching in our contemporary culture, he adds two qualifications—or you might say he has two underlying assumptions. He says: “The answer is that they will come, and that they do come . . . when it is true preaching. This may be slow work . . . it is a long-term policy.”
First, he says, it must be “real preaching,” and he later explains that this means preaching done by someone who is gifted to speak to larger groups. And that is a rub. As someone who taught preaching in seminary, I know that only a fraction of the students coming through seminary show promise of having such gifts.
There are indeed many “incarnational” approaches to ministry that do not require a gifted speaker, and we should use them all. In fact, I would argue that in a post-Christian culture, preaching will not be effective in the gathered assembly if Christians are not also highly effective in their scattered state. In our times, people will be indifferent or hostile to the idea of attending church services without positive contact with Christians living out their lives in love and service. Therefore the incarnational “dispersed” ministry of the church is extremely vital and necessary.
Nevertheless, it is a mistake to argue that people in our society will not come to hear “real preaching.” The fact is that, even in a very post-Christian city, if the preaching is of high quality, people will be brought and will come back. They will be shocked at how convicting and attractive the gospel message is, and they will feel like they’ve never really heard it before (even if they have been raised in a church).